Contact Us




The Arizona Daily Wildcat Online





News Sports Opinions Arts Classifieds

Wednesday June 6, 2001

Counting Crows Photos
Crazy Town Photos
Basketball site
Tucson Riots
Ice T Photos


Restaurant and Bar Guide
Daily Wildcat Alumni Site


Student KAMP Radio and TV 3

Working for peanuts: the best summer job I ever had

Headline Photo

By Ryan Finley

Excuse me if I'm a little nervous. After all, it's my first day.

I have been given the biggest, baddest, most intimidating summer job I could possibly imagine. Running a newspaper - especially at the college level - is a challenge unlike any I have ever faced.

I have to deal with a staff, deadlines, personnel issues, ethical issues, public relations, budgets, hirings and firings, all while trying to keep my sanity, pay my bills, and keep my girlfriend from killing me. This will be especially hard considering the fact that I turn 21 in a month and still can't keep my bedroom clean!

Running the paper won't be easy, especially considering I worked for peanuts - literally - until two years ago.

From the summer of 1996 until the start of my sophomore year of college, I spent my summers trying to find the least intellectual endeavor possible. I settled on peddling peanuts and Cracker Jacks at Qualcomm Stadium in San

Diego. It was a nice job for someone who - like myself - was a sports junkie

living on a tight budget. I got to watch San Diego Padres games for free and

made enough money to keep gas in the car and food in my gut, a task which

seemed harder to accomplish after the "Freshman 15" set in.

It was a simple life, especially compared to the job I currently hold which, frankly, scares the hell out of me.

In high school, I had one task once I got to work - sell peanuts. Those who could sell the most bags - we're talking 200 "family size" bags a day, nearly $1,000 a day - would make the most money. Those who couldn't sell enough were fired.

There was a sort of security in the finality of it all. We didn't necessarily have to get along with anyone. We didn't have to make phone calls or check voicemail. We strapped on a wire basket, screamed our heads off, and hoped the bags would sell before the sun - or the allure of a Sunday afternoon ballgame - forced us to cash it in.

In a way, my three years of selling peanuts may have taught me more about life in the workplace than any class or lecturer could. I learned stupid things, stuff my mom and dad had tried to teach me for years. I learned that being on time was important. If I was just five minutes late, I had missed an opportunity to make money. I learned to be confident in my ability, whether I'm writing a sports story or hawking overpriced salty snacks. I learned to be accepting of those around me - most of the people I worked with had no intention of going to college, some were in gangs, others had kids - despite what stereotypes I held.

But, most importantly, I learned to be different. I'm not talking about

"Michael Jackson taking a chimp to the Grammys" different - I'm talking


In the peanut vending business, the more unique you were, the more attention you received, the better money you made.

So I yelled things a certain way. I pitched peanuts behind my back because I thought someone would set me aside from the dozens of other vendors at work and maybe buy things from me rather than the next guy to walk past their aisle seat.

Sometimes it was as simple as wearing sunglasses during day games. Other times, it was a little harder. Either way, I tried to stand out, a trait that was hard to accept during a time in my life when standing out from the crowd was the equivalent of social suicide.

About a month ago, I decided to be different, too.

During a publicity photo shoot for a story being written about me in the

final issue of the Wildcat, I was asked to sit on an rigged-up toilet seat

(reading an Arizona Daily Wildcat, of course) on the corner of Helen Street

and Park Avenue at about 10 p.m. I went along with it, thinking others would

find it as hilarious as I did.

Big mistake.

The following day, my job was nearly taken from me as quickly as it was given to me. I received hate mail, was yelled at by my superiors, and called everything from sophomoric to stupid by the Wildcat's adviser, who called the stunt "the dumbest thing I've seen in 15 years."

Well, I apologized, grew up a little bit, and got the story framed. My friends still call it "the dump heard 'round the world."

I guess running a paper won't be as easy as selling peanuts, after all. But maybe - just maybe - I can sell papers as well as I did Planters.